How to guide: Getting your foot in the video games development industry door
At Pineapple Studios, we’re passionate about supporting young people and graduates in their early careers. That’s why we’re part of the government KickStart Scheme, taking on many new developers a month between the ages of 16-24.
We asked our project manager, Wang Hai Feng, about his top tips for graduates trying to enter the games development industry. He told us 3 key things that all recent or upcoming graduates need to know, and we’re going to explore them now:
‘Build up and refine your portfolio’
This is potentially the most important and crucial element in your application process. Games development is one of those areas where you don’t necessarily need a degree, although it definitely puts you at a favourable advantage. However, your ability to demonstrate a refined and professional looking portfolio that showcases your abilities and past work is also highly important. It could even secure you a role over someone with a relevant degree who hasn’t applied their learning in the same practical ways as you.
So how do you actually put together this impressive portfolio. You need to gain experience working on real projects; if you’re studying a relevant qualification then make sure to include projects from this as well. If you’re studying towards a relevant qualification, do a placement year as part of your degree or undertake an internship. Another option is to set yourself up as a freelancer and offer your services to clients. However, make sure they’re happy for you to include the work you do for them in your portfolio and showcase it to other people; sometimes clients won’t like this.
‘Networking on industry forums, websites, and events’
According to a LinkedIn survey conducted by CEO Lou Adler, around 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. That includes word of mouth and sharing a role on social media that may be of interest to people you know. This is exactly one of the things LinkedIn was designed for and the platform offers an ideal networking space. Make sure you’ve got an account, with an up-to-date picture of yourself, you’ve filled in your bio and work experience and that you’re active on this platform. Plus, join LinkedIn groups relevant to you and your interests.
If you are a current student, make sure you are seizing as many opportunities as possible that your university can offer you. What does this mean? Join societies that match your career aspirations; these will regularly hold events with guest speakers, share industry relevant news and information and let you know about upcoming events and webinars relevant to you.
Ultimately, it’s all about putting yourself out there. By putting yourself in positions where you are surrounded by people with the same professional interests as yourself. You never know what joining that group, attending that webinar or speaking to that person could lead to.
‘Ask an existing professional for insight into what the industry needs and is looking for’
A lot of companies, big and small, have close links and associations with universities. If you’re a student, make sure you’re attending your Meet the Employers Fair and Volunteering Fair which many universities hold annually. We’ve already discussed the immense power of networking and this is just another example of that. Events like these have company stands with current employees and recent graduates who have secured themselves a role. Take those opportunities not only to find companies who are recruiting but ask the employees about how they got their job. Not only that, but what does their role actually involve, do they enjoy it, and could you see yourself doing something similar?
Also, keep an eye on the Facebook events section. You’ll regularly find a wide range of events, both free and ticketed, often with industry experts speaking about their industry, their role or on a relevant happening or recent project. Not only this, but Facebook is conveniently good at recommending more events to you like those you show an interest in.
It’s all about putting yourself in situations where your understanding of the industry you want to go into is expanded. The better you understand the industry and what it’s looking for, the better you can work to demonstrate you can do those things and that companies like us need you. Which we do!
If you’re a young professional or recent graduate interested in working within the games industry, Pineapple Studios wants to hear from you. Check out the careers page on our website to find out more www.pineapple-studios.co.uk/career.